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On October 23, 2005 Steph Davis became the first woman to free El Cap’s Salathe Wall (VI 5.13b/c). Davis, who freed the Freerider (VI 5.12d/5.13a) variation to the Salathe Wall in 2004, spent many hot summer days up high and alone on the Captain, working crux pitches on toprope. In typical Davis style, she met up with a stranger, Cybele Blood, her soon-to-be partner for her free push, on the top of El Cap just after Blood topped out her first El Cap route.
Davis meticulously prepared for a five-day free ascent, but was stymied by aid parties, sleet and rain, and heart-breaking falls from the top of several crux pitches. She and Blood ran precariously low on food. Blood jumared up, descended via the East Ledges, and returned with the goods, allowing Davis to free every pitch of the Salathe, which she completed after 11 days of effort. See the Hot Flashes report in Issue #246 for more details and photos of the climb.Comment on this story